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Emerald Alienates Another Community Group – Grantville Action Group

Monday, November 16, 2009
posted by Mr. Murphy

Last week, San Diego News Network carried this article, which I missed. Brian Peterson, the author and President of the Grantville Action Group, was a pretty big Emerald supporter during the election if my friends in D7 speak the truth…

http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-11-10/blog/a-more-perfect-union/emeralds-budget-meeting-offers-no-choices-for-citizens

EMERALD’S BUDGET MEETING OFFERS NO CHOICES FOR CITIZENS

Last week’s meeting of the Grantville Action Group was billed as “Councilmember [Marti] Emerald to seek budget ideas at GAG meeting.” Some where along the way, though, the event morphed into a parallel universe version of the “District 7 Advisory Council.” At least now, I think I know how it must feel to be a D-7 Advisory Council member.

San Diego: Brian Peterson is the president of the Grantville Action Group.

Brian Peterson is the president of the Grantville Action Group.

San Diego: sdnn-opinion32

Three days before last Thursday’s GAG meeting, Emerald’s office contacted me to see if she could have 30 minutes at the beginning of our meeting to solicit ideas from the community about the upcoming cuts to the City’s budget. According to the D-7 office, the “City Council must make $60 million in cuts to the FY09 budget by December 15, 2009. In addition, the City Council will be required to make another $120 million in cuts to the FY2010 budget by July 1, 2010.”

Earlier this year, we in Allied Gardens and Grantville went through this before, leading up to the FY09 budget vote. The City Council’s budget committee held a meeting in Allied Gardens to solicit community input on where to potentially cut neighborhood services and where to potentially gain revenue. At this meeting, the citizens did all the talking (in three-minute increments), and the councilmembers did all the listening. But this is not how things went for us Thursday night.

When I arrived at the Grantville VFW for the meeting, I was informed by the District 7 Grantville rep, Chris Pearson, that Emerald probably wouldn’t make it to the meeting to hear our ideas. There was a family medical situation, and she was taking care of that. (In recent contact with Emerald, I heard everything is OK.) Pearson took Emerald’s place in conducting this part of our meeting. But, we soon realized Emerald’s absence wasn’t the only curve-ball.

Mistakenly, I was under the impression that this was to be a free flow of ideas from the citizens to the Emerald, with maybe even some discussion. Instead, this is what they gave us: On one wall of the VFW were two sheets of poster paper with multiple lines of potential service cuts, such as “Arts and culture support,” “Libraries,” “Parks – Rec centers,” and “Police.” A third sheet of poster paper offered potential revenue ideas, including “Library card fee,” Sales Tax Increase,” and “Trash Collection Fee.” We were all given 9 dot-shaped stickers to stick on the posters next to the items. In this way, we were to rate our preferences.

They gave us our choices; no substitutions. Anyone who had ideas, beyond those the council office gave us, were instructed to write them down and hand them to Pearson.

I was not invited to the October meeting of the District 7 Advisory Council, but I can imagine how it went. Emerald and Mayor Jerry Sanders’ advisor, Phil Rath, plied the participants with promotional information, touting the benefits of building a new city hall and new central library. There was no one present to argue for the downside of building two downtown mega-projects, while the City is on the verge of bankruptcy. They were inundated with information, not of their choosing, and then they were asked to vote on it. In defining the parameters of discussion, the outcome was predetermined. We must assume this is how it will work with our dots next to their selections.

For the record, I am not one of those opposed to the District 7 Advisory Council, based on its mere existence. In concept, it is good for Emerald to receive information on happenings in the neighborhoods that may be under the traditional radar. For efficiency’s sake, it may even be best to bring these residents together in quarterly meetings. In practice, however, it’s wrong to gather neighborhood folks together to ultimately use them to rubberstamp a pre-ordained proposition. It is also important for such a committee to be entirely transparent, or else it will seem to be some sort of secret organization with special pull with Emerald.

Also for the record, I wrote in my votes for budget cuts: no new central library, no new City Hall, and no convention center expansion. I also wrote in my suggestion for revenue-make the Redevelopment Agency pay back its $260 million debt to the City’s general fund. It would have been nice, if these ideas could have been added to the poster-sized lists. I wonder how many dots they would have received.

In the end, I don’t know what will happen with the write in votes. All I know is that the smaller pieces of pieces of paper will fit in the trash can better than the bigger ones.

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5 Responses to “Emerald Alienates Another Community Group – Grantville Action Group”

  1. Discontent D7 resident says:

    This is more of the same rubber stamp promoting “outreach” by Emerald’s office. It is a poorly thought out PR ploy by Emerald’s office just as the Advisory Council was. In both forum’s Emerald’s office promotes constituent feedback under the guise of an open conversation but does not provide an avenue for opposition feedback to be heard.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if she had planned on releasing the “results” of this meeting. I believe the final score card could look like this:

    Top 3 constituent ideas on balancing the budget:
    Increase in sales tax
    Trash collection fee
    Library card fee

    With an additional disclaimer that not a single resident placed a sticker in opposition to a new city hall or new downtown library.

    This does not promote real feedback, this does not even remotely resemble democracy.

  2. John D. says:

    What a second…

    I haven’t heard ANYONE talk about a library card fee or a sales tax. Leads me to believe Emerald is floating these ideas.

  3. Grantville Rptr. says:

    This was all over the place a few days ago here and people were pretty pissed off.

  4. San Carlos says:

    Same thing happened at other community groups, but with Emerald there. She asked to speak 20 minutes at the beginning of one – it turned into close to 90 minutes of the yellow sticky game with people irate about how poorly it was handled.

  5. Anyone Hear That Sound? says:

    The only way Emerald could have won that election was a Obama year… even then barely even though she started with whatever she said like 78% positive name identity. In a low turnout race she loses for sure.

    Sounds like the community leaders that backed her are peeling off. She’s gone back on her word on taxes and on the new city hall and open government and on working with the mayor and god only knows what else. oh yeah, ongoing multiple ethics investigations!

    I don’t know why we don’t rally up and recall her. She couldnt win that kind of election… period. If there is money, she’s toast. Besides the fact, she unstable herself and I dont think she could handle another brutal race?

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